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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 17:35 GMT
Wii boost for care home residents
A resident taking part in the Wii exercise.

Elderly residents in a care home are being given Nintendo Wiis to help keep them physically and mentally active.

Neath Port Talbot Council hopes the games consoles will benefit pensioners, especially those with dementia, at the Dan Y Bryn home in Pontardawe.

Some Wii games simulate actions of real sports and have been used in schools to promote exercise in pupils who skip PE.

The Alzheimer's Society said it could see several benefits to them being introduced in care homes.

Dan Y Bryn will be the first of the council's eight care homes to test the Wii, which it is hoped will also bring health benefits to residents through physical exercise.

The council said the Wii was suitable as it could be controlled and adapted to suit users of varying abilities.

Gamers can play as individuals or in groups, so officials said there would be plenty of opportunity for residents to join in socially.

There will be a number of different packages for them to use, including baseball, golf, boxing, tennis and bowls
Derek Vaughan, council leader

Council leader Derek Vaughan said if the trial was successful, then more homes may benefit from them.

"As well as caring for their physical needs, we encourage residents to join in activities designed to help them keep mobile, mentally alert, self confident and socially interactive.

"Research suggests that it [mental stimulation] postpones the onset of dementia and might reverse the process.

"There will be a number of different packages for them to use including baseball, golf, boxing, tennis and bowls."

Hand-eye coordination

A spokeswoman for the Alzheimer's Society said they had been used in a number of care homes in England and the feedback had been positive.

She said games consoles helped people with dementia to keep using their faculties and maintain their hand and eye co-ordination.

A recent study by the society suggested the typical person in a care home suffering with dementia could spend as little as two minutes a day interacting with other residents.

"If you are giving people something to do it really increases their sense of value," she said.

"There's some worth in looking at Nintendo Wiis and other activities that give people a sense of purpose and joy in the day."

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